Shia vs Ismaili: Difference and Comparison

In the Muslim community, there are many different sections. Shia and Ismaili are two of them. The number of Shias is much larger than any other section in the Muslim community.

In fact, they are the largest denomination in the whole world in the Muslim community.

While shia is itself, a community has several different communities in it. Ismaili is one of the parts of different communities that Shia has.

Although, when compared to Shia, Ismaili is a minority sector. The Shias are called or pronounced as shiits. This is because the Shias are the followers of Shia Islam.

Key Takeaways

  1. Shia and Ismaili are two sects of Islam that differ in their beliefs and practices.
  2. Shia Muslims believe in the Imamat of the twelve Imams and the leadership of Ali, while Ismaili Muslims believe in the Imamat of the seven Imams and the leadership of the Aga Khan.
  3. Shia Muslims follow the Jafari school of jurisprudence, while Ismaili Muslims follow the Ismaili school of jurisprudence.

Shia vs Ismaili

Shias are a large Muslim community that follows Shia Islam. They believe that Prophet Muhammad Ali possessed a spiritual power. Ismaili is a sect of the Shia community that constitutes an overall minority in the Muslim community. They praise Ismail-al-Jaban as their leader.

Shia vs Ismaili

Shias are the followers of Shia Islam. The word Shia has been originally derived from Shiatu Ali, which is basically a historical word in the Islamic religion.

The shiatu Ali actually means someone who is a follower of Ali.

There is a belief in the Shias, which is that the Ah-al-Bayt, a famous prophet Muhammad’s family, and some of his other descendants, aka followers known as the imams, are possessed with some special spiritual.

Ismaili, although in the minority, form the second largest sector of the Shia community. Being part of the Shia community, they cover most of the part of that.

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The first largest sector of the Shia community is the Twelvers. This sector got the name of Ismaili from Twelvers. This was after their spiritual leader Ismail ibn Jafar.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonShiaIsmaili
What are they?Shia is a part of the Muslim religion as a community.Ismaili is a sect of the Shia community.
DenominationIn the Muslim religion, shia is the second-largest denomination in the whole world.As a sect of a community, Ismaili comes under the minority section and in no denomination.
ConsiderationThe Shia community considered their prophet’s son-in-law as their very first imam, which is also known as the descendant.The Ismaili sect considered Ismail al Jaban as their leader and successor.  
ProphetThe prophet of the Shia community was the Ah-al-Bayt.Ismail-al-kaban was the prophet and successor of the Ismaili sect.
CommunityShia itself is a community in the Muslim religion.Ismaili is a sect and a part of another community.

What is Shia?

Shias are part of the Muslim community. Muslims have many different communities, and Shia is one of them. Shia has many different communities in itself, too.

The Shias believe that their prophets, Muhammad Ali’s family and descendants possess some special spirituality plus political authority over their community. Their descendants are known as imams.

The sect of Shia considers their prophet Muhammad’s cousin and his son-in-law, who is also his very first imam, named Ali. Shias believe Ali to be the most rightful successor of their prophet, Muhammad.

The first three caliphs were also rejected by the Shias to be their authority. The Shia sect emerged before the lifetime of their prophet Muhammad. This is another that is to be noted when talking about Shias.

shia

What is Ismaili?

As said before, Shia is one of the parts of the Muslim community, and Shia itself has many different sects. Well, Ismaili is one of the sects of Shia.

Not only that, Ismaili is the second largest sect in the Shia community, though Ismailis are the ones in the minority if talking overall.

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The first largest sector of the Shia community is the Twelvers. Ismail al Japan, their leader, was the one from which they got their name of Ismaili.

In fact, they consider Ismail al jaban as their divine spiritual leader and their successor. Imams are the descendants to which the Ismailis follow.

They are also considered as the Nizari community. One can even come across more than one Ismaili subgroup. The community of Nizari is formed with the followers of Aga Khan.

The Aga Khan follower’s group is the largest in the whole Ismaili community.

ismaili

Main Differences Between Shia and Ismaili

  1. The main difference between Shia and Ismaili is their existence. Actually, the Muslim religion has many different communities, and Shia is a part of the Muslim religion as a community, while Ismaili is a sect of that Shia community.
  2. Talking of the denomination of the two, in the Muslim religion, Shia is the second-largest denomination in the whole world, while as a sect of a community, Ismaili comes under the minority section and in no denomination.
  3. The consideration of imams in both the community and the sect is different. The Shia community considered their prophet’s son-in-law as their very first imam, who is also known as the descendant, while the Ismaili sect considered Ismail al Japan as their leader and successor. 
  4. The prophets of both the sect and the community are different. The prophet of the Shia community was the Ah-al-Bayt. Ismail-al-Kaban was the prophet and successor of the Ismaili sect.
  5. Well, the bottom line is Shia itself is a community that is a Muslim religion, while Ismaili is a sect and a part of another community.
Difference Between Shia and Ismaili
References
  1. https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-01862610/
  2. https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/mono/10.4324/9781315027746/ismaili-hymns-south-asia-zawahir-moir-christopher-shackle

Last Updated : 25 August, 2023

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16 thoughts on “Shia vs Ismaili: Difference and Comparison”

  1. This is an interesting post, but there are still a few areas that are not covered. However, the information provided is a good starting point.

    Reply
  2. Amazing information! I never knew the differences between Shia and Ismaili were so pronounced. I’m definitely going to look into this more.

    Reply

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